SMaRT Center Pushes Spokane To Recycle In Record Numbers - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

SMaRT Center Pushes Spokane To Recycle In Record Numbers

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SPOKANE, Wash. - The City of Spokane recently released new numbers about Spokane County's successful recycling rates.

In 2012, recycling in Washington State was at 50.1%. In Spokane, however, the recycling rate was even better, at 54.7%.

The Spokane Regional Solid Waste System said a big reason for these impressive numbers is because Spokane has a single stream recycling system, the SMaRT facility, which stands for Spokane Material and Recycling Technology center.

This high-tech facility sorts through all types of recyclables, everything from glass to paper to cardboard to plastic. This makes it far easier for residents to recycle - all they have to do is throw all of their recyclables into one Big Blue bin.

Because it requires no extra work, this has made it far easier for Spokane residents to incorporate recycling into their normal routine.

The SMaRT center runs 18 hours a day and employs 85 people. And, even with all of the high-tech equipment, it still requires the precision of the human eye to pick out unwanted materials.

Robin Freedman, Senior Communications Manager at Waste Management, the company that operates the SMaRT facility, explained that another reason Spokane recycles so well is because of local government officials' commitment to educating residents about recycling.

"We all need to work together in educating residents about what they should not put in the recycling bin," said Freedman. "It's very important that the materials processed at this center are the best, in order to have a 2nd life."

Freedman stressed the motto, "if in doubt, throw it out," to encourage people not to recycle materials they are unsure about as the wrong thing could stop up the facility. She said it was a good idea to rinse materials before recycling them too.

Of all the materials people decide to recycle, managers at the SMaRT center said some of the strangest things they have encountered are deer carcasses and chainsaws - both of which should have been thrown in the trash.

Freedman also explained that other local governments reach out to cities in Washington, Spokane in particular, for advice about how this "single stream, hands-on-government model" works.

"We are a little behind California," admitted Freedman. "But not other parts of the country. We're really progressive...the Pacific Northwest is ahead of the rest of the country."

Freedman also explained that here in Spokane, the recycled aluminum goes to Annheuser-Busch, and the recycled paper goes almost exclusively back into local, Inland Northwest newsprint.


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